jump to navigation

Cognitive Surplus April 29, 2008

Posted by federalist in Human Markets.
add a comment

Via MarginalRevolution, Clay Shirky uses Wikipedia activity and Television viewing as metrics of humanity’s (untapped) cognitive surplus:

[I]f you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.
And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. … This is a pretty big surplus. People asking, “Where do they find the time?” when they’re looking at things like Wikipedia don’t understand how tiny that entire project is….